Solitude

Solitude

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to hear God speak.

Thank you all the worship team and all of our first impressions team and home group leaders and all the people that helped in different ministries. Very grateful. We all come together and be the church of God. Today we are going to continue or we’re nearing the end of our series called flow. And every week what we’ve been doing is talking about a, what we call the church sensor in the Christian sense, a discipline and a discipline is not punishment. The discipline is what an Olympian does to compete in the Olympics. It’s the habits that they form. It’s the things that they do. And so these are the things that we do to guarantee our presence. God’s presence in our lives guarantee God’s presence in our lives. So these are the practices that Christians had done for thousands of years. And this is how we live the Christian. This is what we actually do for God to live in us and through us.

And this is how God changes the world by using us, by these habits, by these disciplines, if you will. So today we’re going to look at the discipline of solitude. Discipline, a solitude and the way I’m going to share it. I’m going to start off by talking about the problems that happen or some of the things involved in not having solitude in your life. Then I’m going to share about what God says about solitude, the importance of solitude followed that bog and follow that up with the practice. How do we actually put into practice what God says and we’ll end up with what are the rewards or what? What are the changes? What can I expect if I would put into practice what God says about solitude and so that’s where we’re going to go follow along that way. If you’d want to turn your Bibles a little bit early, we’re going to look at the verse in Mark, chapter one verses 35 and 37 Mark chapter one verse 35 37 but first let’s talk about the problems of solitude.

Now, the very core of it, very basic of it is an understanding that God is a person. God is a person that is very unique to Christianity, very unique. Now, Christians have believed this. As we look back now over a year, it’d be about 6,000 years that we have understood God as a person very, I don’t know of any other religion that understands that God is a person. Usually God is a God or there are many gods or God. There is no God. It’s what we create in our minds and kind of how we understand things that initiates from inside. But for us, we as we understand scriptures, we understand history as God reveals himself. Our God does not come from our minds. Our God is real. Our God is always an existence and he has revealed himself. So what we know about God is what he has revealed to us, reveal to people for thousands of years, over thousands of years in and what we have in scripture, what we have in the Bible is an agreement of that is yes, this, this is the God which is continuing to repeat himself and says, this is who I am.

And we have seen and proven that that is true. And so who we know God as is is as a Trinity. God is three persons in one, three, three gods, three persons, three persons in one. That is God, God the father, God the son, God the Holy spirit. Again, each one has a, as a person. Now how do we say, well, how can you have three persons and they’d be one person and then Jesus who is fully human and fully God I do. I just can’t wrap my head. How does that actually happen? Well, we don’t know. That’s why we call that a mystery, but what we do know is that it works all the way through scripture. If you look and read, you understand that understanding God as a Trinity and understanding Jesus is fully human and fully God. Same time, understanding that and seeing that, then everything fits into play.

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Everything makes sense. Okay? That’s how this works. Some people might be uncomfortable with the mystery. Those people should never take medicine because medicine is far more than a history. Medicine is a crazy uncertainty. I take a medication and I have for many years for high blood pressure and when I started to take it I was a little bit nervous about it and so I asked the doctor, I said, what exactly is in this pill is going to make my blood pressure go down? Well, you know, he explained a little bit, well you know it expands your arteries and your veins and that kind of a thing. Well how does in this to cause that to happen? And he said, how many questions are you going to ask me as I just want to understand what is it exactly in this pill that’s going to make my blood pressure go down?

He says, well to just get to where you’re going, we don’t know it. This pill wasn’t invented to lower blood pressures. Pill is invented to reduce swelling. But in the end we found that it reduced it and it works very well. We don’t know why it works. And he used the word, we’re not certain. And I’m thinking that’s a long ways from not certain. That’s like we don’t have a clue how this thing works. All we know is that it does work and so I think, you know, mystery. No, we might not have the capacity and the way our brains work and are wired to sequence to understand God on a deeper level than what it is. It’s fine to understand God, this is how it works. This is the mystery. This is what the Bible reveals to us about God. That’s fine. People are all different.

I have to take a blood pressure medicine to lower my blood pressure and that’s really good on me. My wife on the other hand, when I met Armie, she was also taking a blood pressure medicine, but it was the exact opposite was to raise her, but she suffered from low blood pressure, but in the course of our marriage, God did a miracle. He healed her and she no longer needs to take medicine to lower her, to raise her blood pressure. It’s just happens in the course, our marriage, and she doesn’t have to take that pill anymore. I, you know what, just being around me, as I tell it, is a healing presence healer. Sometimes I wonder if we should take one of my pills. But you know, all in all, I have a healing effect upon her. And because leave it at that. We’re happy about that.

Well, so in this idea of solitude, understanding that God is a person and if you love somebody, the very first thing you need to do to show that or to live in that love of that person is what to pay attention to them. Nobody loves their pet unless they should pay attention to them. You can say all you want, you’ve got to pay attention. You can say you love your wife, you love your spouse. If you don’t pay attention to them, you really don’t. You can say that all you want. You’ve got to pay attention. So people say, well, how is it that I could love God? How can I show myself? It’s as far as I am and is limited as I, how can I show God that I love him? Well, there’s many ways, but one step, an initial set would certainly be how about paying attention to God?

And so the idea of solitude is that question, how much attention are you actually paying to God? Are you paying any attention to God? So that’s kind of where this whole thing begins. Understanding and pan attention to who God is now, what are some reasons that people don’t pay attention to God? What is it? Some reasons? Well, basically there’s nothing in our culture that is helpful to us right now to pay attention to God. Everything is information. People try to get ahold of us. I can eat an answer right now. I’ve got to take care of this. What’s happening over there? It’s just a constant barrage from, from before you wake up to after you go to sleep, what are you going to do? What are you going to do? What are you going to do? It’s a constant growth and it just gets worse every year.

It doesn’t. And I actually try not even by year it gets worse, maybe even on a daily basis. And if we’re actually to be too accurate on it, and it’s just constantly constant. I gotta pay attention to all these different things or different things. And there’s a fear that comes that if I were to disengage long enough to give God some attention, to listen to what God might have to say, what’s going to happen when I’m not paying attention to what’s going on around me. And so it’s this idea of I might lose control or a customer might step away from me or some competition might take some of my edge in some of my relationship offer are I’m going to lose control over the situation if I would step away. So that’s one of our fears are fears of stepping away from the business of the world to give attention to God.

How am I sure I’m up to do that? And so maybe we don’t even realize that that’s it, but on some level there might be a sphere of not being able to control things. And then there’s, there’s also another fear in the midst of all of this, it’s, it’s this idea that God wants me to step away, but honestly I can’t, I cannot stop my mind from buzzing and jumping. Somebody wants called it a monkey’s jumping in the tree branches. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a zoo and monkeys happen to be active where you’re there and suddenly scares them or they just jump like crazy. Just it’s chaos in that tree. Sometimes that’s what our minds are like. Just chaos. Just say, [inaudible] yesterday, I’m going to fix my spouse today. I want to fix my children tomorrow I’m going to fix the world.

And it’s just constantly going. How do we ever get to a point where we quiet our minds enough to pay attention to God, to my listen to God? How? How is it that that’s even possible? And honestly, some of us aren’t even able. Sometimes we can’t even get to sleep because we can’t quiet our minds enough with all the input that’s going on in and around us. That’s kind of the problem. Some of the problems that we face with trying to deal with this idea of solitude and importance of solitude. How is it that I can get my mind to a place where I can give attention to God? But what is it that God says about solitude? Where is it? Well, number one, this is what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say you get to me by thinking about me. He doesn’t say that it’s not a mind exercise to come to God.

In fact, the mind might lead you away from God. Some people might pretend or think or or or for themselves into thinking that they’re good with God because they spend a lot of time thinking about God. Well, how does that work with your husband? How does that work with your wife or your parents or your children? Hey, I know I haven’t talked to you a lot, but I’ve been thinking about you. Thank you. Yeah. Feel the love, right? It’s kind of deceiving thing. We don’t get to know God. We don’t get close to God by thinking about God. In fact, sometimes our minds even have a way of making it all about us. Okay? Every time our mind has a way of making life all about us, and the more you make it about yourself, the more you make it about what you think about God or these eyes, the farther, farther, farther you’re drifting away from who God is.

And what God is trying to say to you, so the way that we come to God is just like just like Jesus experienced here in, in Mark chapter one and I’m just going to give you a little rundown of Mark chapter one. March after one is the beginning of the gospel of Mark. This is one of four stories or four to four we’ll call them books. They’re, they’re very short about the life of Jesus. There’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each of those tell the life of Jesus from birth to death, so to speak, as we’re going to see not exactly birth. Mark starts with his baptism, the other start closer to the birth, but it’s stories about Jesus biographies, if you will, about Jesus for different things people taught not or different Jesus’s what? Jesus for different ways for different people saying this is what our experience was with Jesus, how we saw Jesus life, where we understand his life.

Mark starts off with the baptism of Jesus and so right off the bat we get to the baptism. He’s baptized. Next thing we know is that he is, I’m off running, looking for disciples. Who’s going to be my disciples. Look out lot. They’re looking for disciples. Next thing we know, right? If he’s looking for disciples, he is now casting out an evil spirit. He’s busy. GAD, got a cast of some evil spirit. Next thing we know just disappears, but what do you mean was where did he go? Where do you go? Jesus, we got people to heal. We got people to heal and where she’s us, well, I don’t know. We’ve got to go look for Jesus. They find Jesus. We go right back into healing people and then we go into a feeling of leopard, somebody with leprosy. Then we go into healing somebody who is suffering, who is paralyzed and it just goes, but we have this interruption interruption right in the midst of the busy-ness of Jesus’ life, and I love this interruption because it’s something that you and I can relate to so easily.

Jesus could be living in silicone Valley in 2019 and this is exactly what would be written about Jesus right here very early in the morning. While it was still dark. Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed. That’s what Jesus would do in the midst of the busy-ness, in the midst of all of the demands, and look at the break. Jesus gets here or not, Simon and his companions went to look for him and when they found him, they exclaimed, everyone is looking for you. You can’t get a break. You can’t get a break. Jesus has given attention to everybody. Tons of attention. It was go, go, go, go. Faster, faster, faster, more and more and more. These people need you. These people need you. And Jesus, very early in the morning before the sun came up, he got up and he left the house and he went to a solitary place and he prayed.

We see this pattern in Jesus’ life all the way through Mark, all the way through or the other biographies of him, Mark, Matthew, Mark and John all the way through. We see this. Jesus has to get away and spend some time with his father and it’s never easy. It’s never simple, but he’s got to do that. And here are these disciples running after I’m trying to pull him away, like get back, get back into the grind, get back into the rat race, get back into meat and knees, get back doing your job. And it’s that constant pull into that. And Jesus is always trying to carve out a little bit of time where he can listen to his father. If these disciples were smart, they could have gone and ask his mother because his mother knew what Jesus does. When Jesus was 13 years old, he took off, he disappeared.

He got up very early one morning while it was still dark and he went off to God’s house, to the temple. And there he was. And all of Jesus’ family, when they got up, they packed all their bags and they headed out of town. They’re going back home, not Jesus. Jesus is with them. And finally, Joseph and Mary find Jesus. And what was their exp ex complaining about Jesus to him. What is wrong with you? Where are you? Everyone’s looking for you. And Jesus responds to him. Didn’t you know that I would be in my father’s house? I’ve got to listen to my father. I’ve got to listen because I’ve got nothing. Unless God tells me something. I’ve gotten nothing. How true is that a view? How true is that of me? Unless God says something, unless God speaks to me. I’ve got nothing. This live. I’m just, I’m just another one going down with the river. I just flowing right down with everybody else and some it’d be dumped out and I’ve got nothing unless God pulls me out of this rat race and God’s got posed me out of this hurry. It let’s God gives me his purpose and his direction. I’ve got nothing, and that’s what Jesus knew from the very beginning. He had nothing unless he listened to his father. And that’s what solitude is. That’s what solitude is.

How do we practice this? If God tells us to get away, to find a quiet place and to open ourselves up before, how do we actually do that? Well, let’s follow the example of Jesus. Number one, we find a position as place where we can give attention to God, where we can give attention to God. That’s what it is. It’s a place. A solitude isn’t the way we always understand it. You know, Oh, it’s just getting away for weeks and months or a solitary confinement. I can’t imagine how horrible that is. It’s not that at all. What solitude means in the Christian life and in the discipline it is. It’s giving staff time. It’s giving space. It’s putting ourselves in a place where God has the opportunity to make himself known to you, where God has the opportunity to speak

To you,

Where where you have put yourself in a posture where God, if he has something to say to you, you’re going to hear it because you’re saying, God, I’m listening to you now.

I’m

Blocking out everything else. I’m moving away. It’s not about what I’m wanting to get done. It’s not about what everybody else wanting to get done. It’s just me and you. What do you have to say to me?

I’m just going to listen. That’s what the practice of solitude is. God. What is it that you have to say to me? What is that you want to say? How long do you have to be in this moment of solitude?

I would say like any thing else you do, you train and you start very small. When if you want to run a marathon, you ask out, can I run to the end of the block? That’s where you start. Can you give God 60 seconds of solitude? Can you find that 60 seconds or you’re just sitting and God’s got your attention, your full attention. You’re not saying anything to them. You’re just listening. God, if you want to say something to me, here’s 66

Yes. Can you do that? I don’t know.

No. Sometimes 60 seconds is a long time. We just listening for God, but that’s where it starts. It starts very small. Can you do five minutes? Can you do five minutes? So the point here is not how much can we do? The point is how much am I able to give God at this point right now? Can I give God more in the future? I hope so, but right now, wow. How much time can you give guides

Your attention.

Can you give though? We just said, God, if you want to speak to me, please go ahead. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what solitude is. Not some crazy, scary moment. No, just quietness. God wants to say it to you. You’ll hear it cause God sent it to you. If God doesn’t say anything to you, you know that you know that God did not say anything. You did not make it up because God didn’t say it. That’s the end of story. That’s okay. I’m fine with that too. I gave God an opportunity to speak as he desired to me and that’s all I, he asked me to do as that’s what I did. It’s always in the context, right? Of maybe reading a scripture, getting our minds, you know, meditation style and all those kinds of things. But in our days, let there be a moment where we give our attention to God.

Things, say what he wants to do. I’ve got I got some reasons why solitude really works in our lives, how it really works. And number one, it gives us freedom free. And when I say freedom, I mean we are freed from the demands and from the shaping influence of our culture around us. You ever see it scare you to death? To sit there and try to figure out why am I the way I am? What has happened in my past, not, not anything godly. What has happened in my past has really shaped my personality. Why do I treat people like this? Why do I think this is important? Because of a myriad of things that are happened to me. Some positive, sometimes very negative things. What are the reasons? What are the things that have shaped me? How is it that that government or how is it that that commerce or industry has has caused me to think or think is good or, or how have I been trained by, by you know, eating things that they say is rewarding or how have I, how have I become to be me?

And you know what? That’s the way the world is. Like a little Gumby shaping and polling and twisting you to become like everybody wants to be. That moment of solitude that you give God, that is your opportunity. That is the only chance that you have to be the person to hear what God wants to say for you to be. This is what I’m calling you to. This is what I am leading. This is where we are going. This is what is important, your life. It’s that only moment. You have to disengage from this loud, noisy, bullyish world and listen to God. What does God say into it? Because that’s the only truth you’re going to hear in your lifetime is what God says to you. That there, that’s, that’s the key. That’s the life right there. That’s what produces the joy. Ours. What does God say to you?

To you and so there we go. That’s where it is freedom. It gives us freedom from the things of this world and it unites us to be the people. God has called us to be the person God’s called me to be. The second thing is, it’s very interesting to listen to God, to posture ourselves in a place where we are giving our attention to God. That requires an attitude of you first. It requires an attitude of you first. It’s us coming to God and saying, God, you speak first, not me. I’m going to give you my to do list for you. No, not my wish. Wishlist. It’s not that at all. Nope, it’s you first. God, God, you speak to me as you desire to do. And you know when we get good, when we develop this discipline or this habit of telling God, you first guess what else happens?

It has a way of working in to our relationships with other people. Some of my greatest regrets in life as a father of three boys are grown now. So now I can look back over my life and see what I should have done differently. I was living by the rules and I had this formula in my head that if they would do this, this plus this, plus this, plus it would equal success. And I enforce those rules. And a lot of times I would get upset when they would break those rules because I saw the importance of them. I as important that I imagined would be important to them and I imagined it would be important to me, had nothing to do with our relationship as a father and a son had everything to do with what I wanted life to be. And so I had these rules and what I’ve discovered, and I think every parent has a moment where they discover this, that when they’re over, they tell you this, these stories, and it freaks you out.

They tell you how they bade the rules so that you would think they were obeying the rules, the measure that they obeyed. The rules are to the measure that you thought they were obeying the rules. All they had to do, they realized they figured it out. All I gotta do is do is make you think I’m obeying the rules. And if you think I am, I have a good life, I go do whatever I want. We just got all work together to make dad think we’re doing what he wants us to do. Let me tell you what, when those stories start coming up to sit around the table years later, you’re like, Oh gosh, what is wrong with me? I had no clue. You guys are horrible. You guys are so evil. They, those stories, I’m glad they tell them it’s reality, but you know what?

I missed. I miss listening. All I wanted to know is do you know what the role is? Do you know that you broke the rule and that was the extent of my relationship for so many years. It was never, okay, let’s just talk. What’s going on? What’s happening? It’s about relationship. Let me understand your priorities. Let me understand what stings you’re struggling with. What’s really happening at school? What’s really happening in these other relations? What’s really happened in your relationship with God? What are some things that you see and are probably going to be all bad, but boy, I wish I had just given it that time and that’s what a you first attitude does. It’s just okay, you speak. I’m not going to. And when our relationship with God is predominantly has that attitude of you first, you’re going to notice that that you first attitude is predominant in your relationship with other people too.

And that is a secret to life. That’s a wonderful thing. And it comes from learning how to do that with God. If I can do it with God, I can inevitably it’s gonna seep into my relationship with, Oh, that’s a very good thing that happens. And then the last thing I want to share about a really good thing that happens with this is this. It’s that so many of us want to know what’s going to become of my life or how is the best way for me to live. And people tell us, Oh, you should have goals and you should have dreams. And sometimes that’s very stressful. In fact, it’s always very stressful because we don’t know. We don’t know. I might just suppose this, pick a dream. Am I just supposed to pick a goal? Is it just that arbitrary? It’s just up to me. I don’t know. Just seems to be too important. They had for me just to say, Oh yeah, this is my dream. It almost like obeying the rules. Make somebody think they, Oh yeah, I got rules. I’m obeying the rule of it. Honestly, I don’t have a clue,

Okay?

When you listen to God, when you give those moments to God, you discover that goals. They don’t come from you. They don’t come from your own mind. They don’t come from reading some book or listening to some lecture. No, they come from God. They come from God. You discover your goal by listening to God. God will tell you, these are the this. These are the goals. These are the dreams. These are, this is the potential I have given you. This is where we’re going. Can you imagine God not limited by our small, tiny, infinitesimal microscopic nano understanding of the world. Not limited by that, but instead God is calling us to what he sees and in his immense alternative creativity saying, Hey, this is where your life is going. This is what your life, this is why I created you. This is the phase we’re in right now.

These are, this is God coming down and given you a clear path of the say, Hey, this is where we are. This is where we’re going, and when you find that moment where God reveals to you his plans or his desires or his potential for your life, when you hear that that has been given to you by, by, by communion with the divine center of the universe, how important is that? How important? How wonderful is that to know that what you know has been given to you by God because you listened to God and he came through and he spoke to you and he showed you, this is where we’re going. Can you imagine living a life the opposite of never hearing God say, this is what I have for you. One of the great verses of the Bible that’s been such a help to me personally and I hope to many people is Jeremiah 29 11 for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

That’s what we’re talking about when you listen to God. God has plans for your life, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, and that’s what we listened for God to give us and his time of solitude. It’s not God’s fault that we don’t know what he’s telling us. It’s our fault because we don’t listen to God. We have. It’s taken that time and say, God, speak to me what you wanted to say. How wonderful to have that in our light lift for everyone in our church to grow in this disciplines. How to solitude that we listened to God that would give as much time as we can to listen to a God has to say, God will work with you. God will work with you. He’s not saying, Oh, after you give me a day, no, no.

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He said, give me whatever you give me. I’ll give you as much as I can in that timeframe. As much as you can take in whatever time you got. I will do that. I’ll be faithful. I want you to know this. I wait cause it’s such a book. You are mine. You’re my child. I want to help as much as I can. That’s where God is. And so how does our life change as a result? So from what God says about solitude, if we’re gonna put those things into practice, what is actually change in our lives? Have you ever had a a jar filled with some type of dirt and all shaken up and it’s all unsettled? It’s just dark Brown. It’s just gross looking and there it is just swirling around and you let that jar sit for a little bit or for quite awhile.

And then the, the, the, the dirt particles, they saddle, don’t they? And after quite a while, maybe, I don’t know, hours day, I don’t know what happens. All those particles settle to the bottom. They all settled to the bottom. And when they settle to the bottom, now you’re able to say, Oh, this is clear, this is dirt. You’re able to separate it. You can’t just say it’s dirty water. Well, it’s dirty water, dirty water. There’s, there’s things, it’s water, it’s clear, it’s pure water. And then there’s dirt running around all over the place. But when it settles, you can do. She ate it. In solitude, we can find a moment where our lives can settle and the dirt can be distinguished between what’s clear and we can clearly see God’s hand. We can securely see God’s presence in our lives and we can clearly see the sin. We can certainly see what’s wrong. We can see that, Oh, there it’s way. If we don’t settle, if we don’t give that time for it to settle, we’ll never see it and we won’t. Gain, won’t be an advantage for it. Let it settle and that’s how we find, and then we can focus on what has God’s had, the clarity of who God is in our lives separate from, from all the baggage that we have in another thing that happens to changes in our lives if we were to practice this idea of solitude

[Inaudible]

It’s very aware of every one of our lives and he knows very well that if you were to meet God in this and silent very profoundly, if you were to know God on a deep experiential level,

[Inaudible]

Back the forces of evil, that the presence of evil would be unseated in your life.

[Inaudible]

As the children of God to change on the inside, to have clarity, to listen to what their heavenly father is speaking directly to them, saying, this is what I have to say to you. That’s what changes us. That’s what changes. May we give God our attention so that he could speak truth to us.

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